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To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate

Now that flu season is upon us, the question continually arises, “Should I get the flu shot if I am pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant?”  The answer is “YES!” with very few exceptions.  According to the CDC,

“…No evidence exists of risk from vaccinating pregnant women with inactivated virus or bacterial vaccines or toxoids. Live vaccines pose a theoretical risk to the fetus. Benefits of vaccinating pregnant women usually outweigh potential risks when the likelihood of disease exposure is high, when infection would pose a risk to the mother or fetus, and when the vaccine is unlikely to cause harm.” 

Therefore, women who are planning to become pregnant or are all ready pregnant should receive the influenza vaccine attained from inactivated virus, but not the live attenuated virus which is generally delivered via an inhaled aerosol.  The most common vaccine which should NOT be administered during pregnancy or in the 4 weeks preceding pregnancy is the MMR (mumps, measles, and rubella) because it is derived from live virus.

The next question, especially in Austin, is what medicines are safe to take for allergies since now is the time for ragweed, pigweed, milkweed, and soon cedar.  Medications which relieve symptoms such as antihistamines (Benadryl, Claritin), decongestants (Sudafed), and fever reducers and analgesics (Tylenol) are all generally considered to be safe.  If you take any other prescription medicines for allergies, please be sure to ask your physician if they are safe during pregnancy.  Otherwise, grab the Kleenex and eye drops, head outside, and enjoy the fabulous October weather!

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